3 Question Interview with Dr. Devers: Effective feedback during the pandemic

This article continues a series on how to deliver effective feedback during a pandemic.

A few years back, I was able to produce weekly posts on Dadsforcreativity; sadly, I haven’t been able to reestablish that routine – life was certainly different with only one little one to contend with each week. That said, I’m committed to reintroducing the DadsforCreativity: Three question interview. This series is when I reach out to experts in a particular space and ask them questions about cultivating creativity at home – or other items relevant to education.

See Also: Supporting effective feedback from a distance

Dr. Devers is interested in applied metacognitive processes and how people learn.

Last month I wrote an article supporting our children’s schooling during the pandemic and introduced a topic related to delivering effective feedback from a distance (or better stated – delivering effective feedback during a pandemic). To further explore this topic, I reached out to Christopher Devers (@chrisdevers) at Johns Hopkins University. Professor Devers received his Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and has an MS in educational administration from Purdue University. Dr. Devers is interested in applied metacognitive processes and how people learn. Specifically, he explores learning using videos, mobile devices, and online environments.


What are the main methods of feedback we typically expect as part of a formal learning experience?

Generally, I would argue that there are two main ways that students receive feedback — first tests and assignments, and second from teachers — both are valuable but serve different purposes. Tests help students discern what they know or do not know, as well as facilitate retrieval practice (see Roediger, Putnam, & Smith, 2011). Feedback from teachers can help students know where they are, where they are going, and where to go next (see Hattie & Clarke, 2018).

What challenges do you anticipate this year as teachers work to accommodate homeschooling once again?

Given all the unique educational situations, we should relax and be flexible! There are a few things that might be helpful to remember when teaching in digital environments. First, even though we are moving online, much of what works in face-to-face situations will likely work well in digital environments, given some creativity. For example, self-explanation (see Chi, Lewis, Reimann, & Glaser, 1989) works well in face-to-face environments and can be used in digital environments with programs like Flipgrid. Second, be mindful of everyone’s limitations — administrators, teachers, students, and caregivers — be cautious of simply trying to check things off the list just to get them done. Third, keep it simple and do not overcomplicate things; use what works. Last, have fun and be creative!

What advice do you have for parents as they try to support their child’s learning from home?

Be patient. Administrators, teachers, and staff are working very hard to support students in this unique situation. As with any learning experience, face-to-face or online, focus on using strong evidence-based practices (see Dunlosky et al., 2013). Additionally, when evaluating educational apps, be sure that they follow the principle of multimedia learning (see the Mayer, 2014 chapter). Twitter can also provide fantastic educational resources; I suggest following me (@chrisdevers), Dan Willigham (@DTWillingham), Paul Kirschner (@P_A_Kirschner), Robert Slavin (@RobertSlavin), Regan Gurung (@ReganARGurung), Retrieval Practice (@RetrieveLearn), and Learning Scientist (@AceThatTest). Curt Bonk’s (@travelinedmanwebsite includes some creative resources about online education.

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DadsforCreativity Talented and Gifted Child

3 Question Interview: Do you have a child who is Talented and Gifted?

A couple of years ago I become a member of the Connecticut Association of Gifted and Talented, I was particularly interested in this group of educators/parents because there was a desire to seek out opportunities to engage and cultivate creative thinking. Many of the educators were graduates from gifted and talented programs, where as the parents had children who had been identified as such. In my interaction with the latter, I came to realize some of the challenges and anxiety that exists for children who are talented and gifted, and more importantly the importance of intervention and support at an early age. – SCROLL DOWN FOR INTERVIEW.


If you’re a parent you might be interested in the following articles from DadsforCreativity: Introducing Design Thinking, Movie Making, 7 Ways to Cultivate Creativity at Home, Creativity in Education.


DadsforCreativity Talented and Gifted
Taking your children on a nature walk helps engage their curiosity for the world and is one of my 7 ways to cultivate Creativity at home.

Unfortunately, many schools lack the resources or training to adequately accommodate talented and gifted students, including the many who have an innate desire to create and make – I firmly believe parents of talented and gifted children can benefit from some of the content shared at, but I think it’s important that they primarily seek out a community of parents and educators who are not only subject matter experts, but also experienced in having a child who is talented and gifted.

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Do you have a child who is Talented and Gifted? One of the things to consider throughout this process is your child’s happiness and well-being, I encourage you to get informed, ask lots of questions, and locate resources in your area. Below is a 3 Question Interview, from the Connecticut Association of Gifted and Talented (CAG), it primarily contains resources for parents who suspect there children might be gifted and talented, or have been alerted to the possibility from experienced preschool or elementary school teachers.



How do we define a child who is talented and gifted?

There are many definitions as to what makes a child ‘Talented and Gifted’ but there is no concise, universal definition:

From the National Association of Gifted Children (NAGC): “Gifted individuals are those who demonstrate outstanding levels of aptitude (defined as an exceptional ability to reason and learn) or competence (documented performance or achievement in top 10% or rarer) in one or more domains. Domains include any structured area of activity with its own symbol system (e.g., mathematics, music, language) and/or set of sensorimotor skills (e.g., painting, dance, sports). Nearly every state has its own definition of gifted and talented students.  – See more here:

From the Davidson Institute for Talent Development: Many parents say, “I know what giftedness is, but I can’t put it into words.” This generally is followed by reference to a particular child who seems to manifest gifted behaviors. Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions of the term, all of which become deterrents to understanding and catering to the needs of children identified as gifted. Let’s study the following statement:

“Giftedness is that precious endowment of potentially outstanding abilities which allows a person to interact with the environment with remarkably high levels of achievement and creativity.”

From Hoagie’s Gifted:  What is giftedness?  There is no universal definition.  Some professionals define “gifted” as an intelligence test score above 130, two or more standard deviations above the norm, or the top 2.5%.  Others define “gifted” based on scholastic achievement: a gifted child works 2 or more grade levels above his or her age.  Still others see giftedness as prodigious accomplishment: adult-level work while chronologically a child.  But these are far from the only definitions.

Former U. S. Commissioner of Education Sidney P. Marland, Jr., in his August 1971 report to Congress, stated:

“Gifted and talented children are those identified by professionally qualified persons who by virtue of outstanding abilities are capable of high performance. These are children who require differentiated educational programs and/or services beyond those normally provided by the regular school program in order to realize their contribution to self and society”.

Talented and Gifted - Little Bits
There’s lots of toys that encourage children of all ages and talents to create and make. One of my favorites is Little Bits

What should parents do if they suspect their child might be Talented and Gifted?

There are many types of tests available if you suspect your child might be G/T. Identifying G/T students is mandated in the State of Connecticut so many public schools test for G/T, usually beginning in the third grade. For parents who don’t want to wait until their child is in third grade, or who don’t want to rely solely on the school’s assessment, there are independent testing resources available and the Connecticut Association for the Gifted (CAG) has a list of resources to share, all you need do is reach out to and ask for our list of testing resources. For a list of national and international resources, check Hoagies’ Gifted’s psychologists page here.

What are some of the resources available for parents of a Talented and Gifted child?

Minds in Motion™ events take place an average of 8-10 times per year in various locations around the state of Connecticut from fall through spring. Minds in Motion™ is the Connecticut Association for the Gifted (CAG)’s signature enrichment series which offers exciting, fast-paced, interactive workshops for every child with every interest, Kindergarten – 8th grade on Saturday afternoons.

Adults can attend thought-provoking, special-interest workshops and a keynote free of charge at every MIM™ event. At Minds in Motion™ adults will also receive free literature, network with fellow parents, and learn about resources, after-school programs, camps, books, and other educational tools beneficial to your child. There are also many other resources available too, some of which have their own programs and tools. Some of these resources include: AEGUS – Association for the Education of Gifted Underachieving Students, CT State Department of Education – Gifted and talented resource page, CTY – Johns Hopkins’ Center for Talented Youth, Eric Digests – Repository for materials from the former ERIC Clearinghouse, NAGC- National Association for Gifted Children, Neag – UConn’s Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development. SENG- Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted and – Smart Kids With Learning Disabilities. There are so many others. Check CAG’s list here.

The interview above has been shortened – for the original interview click here.

CE_FREEMOVIEV3FREE FILM on Creativity in Education

Creativity in Education: Exploring the Imbalance, is a documentary film that explores Creativity in education. The film is available on Amazon or can be access for free by simply commenting below or subscribing here.




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7 Ways to Cultivate Creativity is a FREE eBook for parents who want are looking for ideas on how to cultivate creative thinking skills at home. Subscribe here to download the book.

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Exploring Color Theory Dads for Creativity

Exploring Color Theory: Tips from Artist and Animator, Samantha Olschan


If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you twice – my eldest loves to draw. I’m sure I’m not alone in having a child who appears unable to resist the need to express their understanding for our world through paper and pencil. Recently he’s begun to experiment with color, and so I thought it wise to seek the advice from transmedia artist Samantha Olschan, who’s worked across broadcast design, animation, compositing, and time-based visualization for television and film.

In the 3 Question Interview below, Samantha shares her insight into exploring color theory, as well as offering some ideas on how parents can heighten a child’s ability to better observe the world around them by noticing color – after all it’s all about creating and making, and every little helps!


 See Also: Drawing tips from artist and illustrator, Bill Dougal


What’s the big deal about color?

Color is incredibly powerful and plays a significant role in our visual experiences (whether we acknowledge it or not). Color has been known to increase memory, engagement, and participation, but also informs and attracts us. Think about your favorite piece of art, or your favorite brand’s logo, a favorite t-shirt or team jersey, the color of a loved ones eyes- the colors of these objects likely carry significant psychological and/or emotional attachment. Color is also incredibly complex and its implied meaning varies from person-to-person depending on culture, time, geography.

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 In what ways can young children benefit from exploring color

Color and shape are the building blocks for so many things your child will learn. By exploring color, children can begin to build practices that will help with communication and creative problem solving skills. From observation, to differentiation, to sorting to listening skills. Color also offers abstract thinking skills and can help children understand more complex (things) like perceived emotion, tone and mood. This is especially true when you ask young children about artwork (both their own and the work of other artists) The real head fake comes when you and/or your child realize just how much you can learn about and through color- color is math (color measurement in mixing & sequencing), color is chemistry (the evolution of pigments & color mixing), color is visualized cultures (history and humanities) color is art & design (art history, art making, designed objects, theater, performance, gaming, lighting, interactive experiences)- but most importantly, color is a fun and expressive tool.

I can’t remember my eldest’s age, but I made a note of what he said each item was. You can see clearly that even at an early age he useed color to distinguish between shapes.


How might parents and educators facilitate young children exploring color at home or in the classroom?

There are so many ways that you can use color and teach color, but I urge children (and adults) to constantly play with color and take “creative breaks” often. Something as simple as going to a local paint or hardware store for paint swatches can be adapted into a fun game of “color swatch memory” (just take home swatches, cut, flip, and play!) or “name that color” (i love guessing what colors are named before actually reading their names!)

Right now, I’m obsessed with the Nameless Paint Kit ( which completely eliminates the need for color naming. What we call Green is simply Yellow dot + Blue dot. It’s a great way for children, art students and adults, alike, to learn about color.

Nameless Paint Kit, is a great tool to introduce your child to mixing and making colors

With winter approaching, painting on snow with water color or diluted food coloring is a great way to take art and color outdoors and out of context.

Sequencing color on construction paper garlands to learn numbers, color and pattern. Using multi colored 8×11 construction paper, cut 2 inch strips. Link the strips together in a long chain and have your child repeat this sequence with color. This is a great activity that can also be adapted using everyday object like crayons, or small toys, or cutout shapes of construction paper to help with sorting skills with color and shape. 

iSpy- a classic game that can use color to help children learn to differentiate and observe their environment. For older children you can adapt this into “photo safari” (using a digital camera or phone) or scavenger hunt (collecting colored objects along a journey). Simply create a list that outlines what colors and shapes they are expected to find and see how they creatively solve the problem!

Art history color games- create an experience or game at a museum or looking at pictures of famous art. Ask your child to identify pieces of art that they like, and ask them what colors they see, or how the colors make them feel. Have them investigate how these colors are similar or different (For example: Rothko’s red vc Coca Cola Red, Yves Klein Blue vs Vermeer’s Blue, Klimt’s Gold vs Tutamkamen’s Mask Gold. ) Its a great way to introduce how color is used to communicate ideas and even more abstract concepts in storytelling, art and branding.

CE_FREEMOVIEV3FREE FILM on Creativity in Education

Creativity in Education: Exploring the Imbalance, is a documentary film that explores Creativity in education. The film is available on Amazon or can be access for free by simply commenting below or subscribing here.




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7 Ways to Cultivate Creativity is a FREE eBook for parents who want are looking for ideas on how to cultivate creative thinking skills at home. Subscribe here to download the book.

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bill Illustrating creatdad (2)

Drawing for Kids: Tips from Artist and Illustrator, Bill Dougal


Lets talk about Drawing for Kids – Kids like to Draw! They start scribbling at around 18 months and don’t really care too much about the final product – the process of drawing and seeing marks appear on the page is enough for them to get hooked. Later most will begin to use shapes and color selection to represent objects and people. I still have some of Lucas’s early drawings, and you can see genuine attempts to represent characters from Thomas and Friends. I use the word ‘genuine attempt’ because often I would challenge him to draw a character, but sometimes our little ones might just be drawing at random, and only recognize meaning to their creation ‘after’ it appears in front of them. What I found is that it’s important to ask questions about their work and engage them in dialogue. ‘What’s this?’ or ‘Who do we know who is this color?’ are nice simple questions to get the conversation started with little ones.

See Also: 7 Easy Tips to Turn Kids Drawings into Movies

I can’t remember Lucas’s age, but I made a note of what he said each item was. You can see clearly that he uses color to distinguish between shapes.

I’ve been really interested in how drawing has played into Lucas’s creative development. His imagination regularly plays out on the page and one of his favorite activities continues to be making stories. My wife sometimes shows him YouTube videos of how to draw an animal and I have found some cool drawing apps from the Apple App Store. One of my favorites is the Mastermind Kit from OSMO, which combines technology with traditional drawing styles on paper. This is important as Lucas is not a fan of drawing on the iPad itself and likes the feel (or perhaps freedom) of a pencil and paper.

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Observing Lucas I feel there are two parallels in play – one is the creation of a story and the other is the development of drawing skills. Last month I pumped into Artist and Illustrator Bill Dougal, who has over thirty years of experience as a professional artist, specializing in Caricature Drawing and Advertising for children’s books. I asked Bill to provide some advice on how parents might better cultivate drawing skills in our little ones.

Why do you think most children like to draw? For example, my boy loves to act out stories on paper. I’ve introduced him to some great apps on the iPad, but he keeps coming back to the crayon.

“Making a mark” in the world may be a basic human desire. Perhaps it proves ones’s existence, and a quality of uniqueness. Young kids want to try things out. A child thinking, “ Let’s see if I can draw a circle.”, is like he or she thinking, “Let’s see if I can jump from the chair to the sofa.”

How does the act of drawing engage Creative Thinking Skills in children? More importantly, is there a way to expand upon these skills?

Once you draw a line, you have to think how the next one should be. Options include placement, size, shape, style etc.

Are their any drawing techniques or styles that you think parents can introduce to their children at an early age?

Picture making skills can be advanced if the child understands the process. Steps include; idea, planning drawing, assessment, chances, and finishing. This may be advanced for the very young. A simpler version is; Draw something, think how it can be better, then draw it again.

Tots can explore examples of variety. For instance, different kinds of lines, i.e. scribbly, jaggedy, dashed etc. They could also try different kinds of compositions, i.e. sparse, busy, or weighted to various areas of the paper.

You can learn more about Bill’s website on his website

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